She noticed him before he understood she did.
Although his steps were careful, they couldn't escape Nora's instincts. She spun around, meeting two large brown eyes. Her fist came up, colliding with the figure's jaw and making a terrifying crack. The man stepped back but did not fall down. He swiftly grabbed Nora's forearm, hoping to throw her to the ground. She laughed sharply at his idiocy, twisting his arm behind his back and seizing his other shoulder to ensure he didn't get away. She shoved him against the wooden wall, lifting his elbow as high as possible until he let out a groan.
"I surrender! I surrender!" he said in Seyali.
Nora pushed him off the wall but didn't relax her grip in the slightest. She stomped out of the little room she had been ambushed in and lead the strangely slender figure towards the big space she had left Ailyn at. The Princess of Light was now at her feet, clutching the thin silk coat around her body with one hand. Her other palm was extended, a flare appearing once again in the familiar place, illuminating her petrified expression. Once the man -- or rather, the boy -- caught glimpse of her, he gasped and almost toppled over.
"Y-Your Highness! What are you doing in a humble peasant's barn?" he stuttered, eyeing her up and down to make sure she was real. Nora couldn't help but roll her eyes. You weren't very humble when you attacked a stranger.
Before Ailyn could talk, Nora let the boy's hands go and stepped between the two figures. "We need a ride. And some clean clothes."
The princess sighed grumpily, used to the comfort of her palace. "But you said we would leave tomorrow!"
Nora ignored her, looking at the boy's face. Just as she had guessed, he was far younger than he seemed when he attacked her; his features were still soft, like a baby's. His delicate fawn eyes hosted two sets of thick lashes, and his hair was the color of starch. He couldn't be more than a mere teenager. "It doesn't have to be pretty. We need to get to Frya, specifically Messo."
He hesitated at first, but looking back and forth from Nora to Ailyn he seemed to reconsider. "Are you together?"
"Yes," muttered Ailyn, upset that she would miss her beauty sleep. Still, she played the part of the damsel in distress just fine. "But someone is pursuing us. Nobody can know. We are desperately in need of a carriage to leave this country as soon as possible!"
The boy's chest swelled with pride, and despite Ailyn's warnings, Nora was sure he would go home when they returned and boast about the whole ordeal to his family. "Fine, then. I shall take you to Messo as soon as possible!"
Then they sat in silence. The boy stared at Ailyn dreamingly, as if he had met his future wife. It was true that she was beautiful, even soiled and drenched in sweat. Her eyes were like an exotic sea; deep blue with a touch of forest green. They contrasted with her pale white complexion and golden hair. Even in the dark, terrified, she managed to still resemble a princess, despite her title having been stripped from her.
Nora cleared her throat, pursing her thin lips together. "The clothes."
The boy shook his head furiously, as if he was previously in a trance. "I'll bring the best I can find from my sister. Please stay where you are!" he blurted out and disappeared behind the heavy doors, leaving the large room in silence once again.
While he was gone, Nora did her best to beat Ailyn at the staring competition they had silently agreed on, yet the latter kept looking towards the door, making it too easy for the spy. They had nothing to say anymore, especially after their previous conversation.
She killed her parents. She felt bad for it, yet Nora was jealous of Ailyn. She had done what Nora had wanted to do twenty-two years now; kill her mother, erase her from the world, or at least from her mind. She had failed at all three. The girl had always thought getting rid of the last thing that was holding her back from forgetting her past would somehow magically remove all burdens from her shoulders. Yet seeing Ailyn's state, and most of all the insanity her actions had spawned, made her imagine herself in the princess's situation. Would she go mad, too? Despite her hatred for her parent?
YOU ARE READING
❈ Watty's 2019 Fantasy Winner ❈ 'I'll take pride over power and guts over greed'. The five nations of Schamaria have been in conflict for many years now. With a war breaking out and the continent being divided into two sides, irreversible damage and...